Planned Parenthood NJ downsized: one step closer to shut downCarmel Nisha Pius Franco | May 15, 2018
We processed with weekend fatigue. Gathering whatever strength we had left, we encouraged one another through smiles that concealed our inner struggle. But when we reached our spot, lo and behold, the sight of a notice was enough to give everyone a boost of energy for the rest of the day. It read “We’re moving.”
Planned Parenthood at Elizabeth, NJ
The Planned Parenthood (PP) clinic in Elizabeth, NJ, where we protest every week, performs abortions up to 10 weeks. They also take all efforts to maintain their clientele through birth control, STD testing, abortion referrals and other services. As per the law in NJ parental consent is not required for a minor to get abortion in this clinic.
Being in the frontlines
The journey to this moment began four years ago when I found myself counselling women going into abortion clinic not to have an abortion. It was only 7 months since my first training with some courageous sidewalk counselors in front of the Planned Parenthood in Margaret Sanger square in Manhattan that I decided that we should do this in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
I did not have any friends in the neighborhood, nor did I speak Spanish. PP was right in middle of a vibrant multicultural neighborhood consisting of Polish, English, Spanish, Creole, French, Portuguese and Greek communities. I called up a couple of parishes surrounding the clinic and got cut off by some priests saying that “Planned Parenthood also does good things” or “We don’t want to get involved”. Determined not to be discouraged I made one last call to the monastery of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and left a voice message: “there’s abortion happening in the neighborhood where your monastery is, if you really care about the babies and families please call me back.” I got a call back and soon we started to do sidewalk counseling with a couple of friars praying on the opposite side every Saturday. I believe in my heart that day marked the beginning of the end for the Planned Parenthood in Elizabeth.
On August 6, 2016 we came to the clinic as usual but were overjoyed looking at a “For Sale” board hanging on the building. Though we knew that their business was being affected through information from a confidential source, to see a confirmation was an assurance of victory. We boosted our efforts to speed up things and decided to use the most lethal weapon at our disposal—Prayer Vigils.
Mass, combined with Eucharistic adoration and Rosary procession was the weapon of our choice. For some reason prayers annoy them much more than sidewalk counseling or even protest. They could take it if people were to keep yelling at them or even those carrying large poster of aborted babies. But seeing people gathering in rain and snow to pray peacefully seems to frighten them and disturb them deeply.
We began our prayer vigils on January 2017 with the help of an amazing priest in the neighborhood, Fr. Jose A. Abalon. The ‘Witness to Life’ as we call it is the style of intervention developed by Monsignor Philip Reilly, the founder of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. The protocol is simple. Holy Sacrifice of the Mass followed by Eucharistic exposition. Those who cannot take part in procession can stay in the church and pray for the rest of the group. We go in procession to the abortuary carrying the banner of Our Lady and saying the Joyful mysteries of the Rosary. Once we arrive in front of the abortuary we pray the sorrowful mysteries, followed by a moment of silence in the knees for the children crucified in ‘the modern-day Calvary” as Monsignor calls it. We then return to church saying the glorious mysteries, followed by Benediction ending with a simple social to encourage one another, where we learn from each other and share stories of success.
These vigils have shut down hundreds of abortion clinics around the world. And as we walked in procession to the clinic this week and saw the notice stuck on the entrance saying “We’re moving” we came to realize something. This notice means that their business of betraying mothers, giving false information, breaking the marital bond, destroying families and killing babies cannot thrive. This downsizing shows their growing weakness. It shows that Planned Parenthood in Elizabeth will sooner or later make it on that growing list of shut down abortion facilities. It means we’re one step closer to getting this clinic shut down.
It’s not over yet. We shall keep offering help and conducting vigils at the downsized aborturay. We shall not rest until they’re driven out of the community. We shall not rest until hearts are transformed.